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Tag: belief

Luke 16:24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

When we think of the story of the rich man and Lazarus, we tend to focus on the stark contrast between the two men; Lazarus being poor, and the man being rich.  Lazarus goes into the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man is in hell.  Sometimes, however, we can be so busy focusing on one aspect of the story that we miss an even more profound teaching by our Lord Jesus.
Notice, in this passage, that the rich man calls up to Abraham, and asks Abraham to have pity on him. There would be nothing too unusual about that, since in the story he is in torment and is asking Abraham for relief.  It is what he says next, however, that is so striking: “send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”  Let’s consider this for a moment.  The rich man is asking Abraham to have pity upon him, but then he asks Abraham to “send Lazarus.”  It is as if the rich man sees Lazarus as nothing more than a poor servant!  And this brings us to an important principle:

Whatever mindset you leave this life with, is the mindset you will have in the life to come.  

Let that sink in for a moment.  If you have a selfish mindset in this life, that is the mindset you will take in the life to come.  If you have a prideful mindset, that is the mindset you will take in the life to come.  If you are filled with hatred, hatred you will carry into the life to come.  Contrast the story of the rich man and Lazarus to the story of the thief on the cross.  Notice what he says to the Lord Jesus before he dies:
Luke 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Notice his mindset.  This man recognized he deserved his punishment, but in humility appealed to the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus showed him mercy.

What is your state of mind right now?  None of us knows how many days we have left remaining in this life.  There is an urgency to change your mindset now, while you have the opportunity.  This is truly what it means to repent – to change your mindset.  If you are selfish, now is the time to become selfless.  If you are harboring unforgiveness, now is the time to forgive.  Are you greedy?  Begin giving today.  In other words, change your mindset TODAY.  

 

faith-1Yesterday, we examined the Biblical definition of the word “belief.”  Today, we will consider the concept of faith.
Heb. 11:Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently search for him.
We are told that if we come to God, there are two things we must believe: a) that God exists; and b) that God rewards those that diligently seek him. If we use the definition of belief which we discussed yesterday, then we are convinced of the existence of God, and it is that conviction that compels us to seek him.  The words “faith” and “belief” in this passage in this verse are variations of the same Greek word – pistis.  This means that our words “faith” and “belief” contain the same concept of being convinced something is true to the point that one is compelled to take action.  It is this display of obedience which is the substance of things hoped for, and this same obedience is the evidence of things not seen:
Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.
Put another way, saints of God are certain of the return of Christ, and obey His commands until the time of His return is fulfilled.  Their confidence in God’s existence is evident in their actions.  These saints are not preoccupied with proving to others that God exists, because that is not what Christ commanded them to do.  Christ commanded them to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, not prove to others that God exists.  For those who do believe, no proof of God’s existence is necessary.  For those who do not believe, no proof of God’s existence will suffice.  Our objective, as saints of God, is to obey God daily by listening and submitting to the Holy Spirit.  This is how we diligently search for the God which we cannot see with our eyes. Our certainty is that God will reward those who are actively engaged in seeking God and his kingdom.

abraham-and-isaac-sacrifice-craftGenesis 15:And Abram believed the Lord, and he counted that to him for righteousness.

What does it mean to believe?  In today’s world, to believe simply means that one is convinced that something is true.  If someone says “I believe in God,” that translates to “I am convinced that God exists.”  Biblical belief, however, has an additional component.  Biblical belief is not only being convinced that something is true, but it is such a conviction that it compels a person to take action.

Romans 10:For if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved:
The belief is not simply being convinced that God raised Christ from the dead, it is being convinced to the point that you must take action.  What kind of action would you take? Obedience to the commands and instructions of Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.
For wives, true belief is not simply being convinced this is true, but being compelled to obey this command.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it,
For husbands, true belief is not simply being convinced this is true, but being compelled to obey this command.

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil: procure things honest in the sight of all men.  18 If it be possible, as much as in you is, have peace with all men.  19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him: if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with goodness.

For all saints, it is not enough to simply read this passage in the Bible and be convinced of its sincerity; saints must also be compelled to obey this command.  It is our obedience to the command that makes it a living truth.  It is through our humble submission that the world will know that the true and living God exists.  For what benefit comes from being convinced of a truth that doesn’t change our conduct:
Luke 6:46 But why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I speak?  Why say that I am convinced that Jesus is Lord if I refuse to submit to His authority as Lord?  In this way, my actions are speaking my true heart:  I am convinced in my mind that I agree with what is written on the pages in the Bible, but in my heart I am not convinced He is Lord.  Biblical belief for saints of God is a conviction that requires an accompanying action.

Jews-and-GentilesRom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
There are two groups of people in the Bible.  Contrary to traditional belief, the two groups are not saved people and unsaved people, neither are the two groups believers and unbelievers.  The two groups are Jews and Gentiles.  The Bible also refers to the groups as circumcised and uncircumcised, respectively.  Why is it important to understand the distinction?  Because it helps us understand the kingdom of God from God’s perspective.  We learned earlier that the commands and statutes were given to Israel and no other nation, a truth that Paul affirmed in his epistle to the Romans:
Rom. 3:1  Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
God declared only one nation of people on earth to be holy, and that was the Jews.  The promise of the kingdom was given and entrusted to the Jews.  The covenants were made with Jews.  Gentiles had no part of the promises, a truth that Paul affirms in his letter to the Ephesians:
Eph. 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Paul makes us face a hard truth – the Gentiles, or uncircumcised, were without hope and without God in the world.  We were born separated from God, no matter how we describe ourselves.  So what do atheists, people of other faiths, unbelievers and most Christians have in common?  All are uncircumcised.  When we are able to face this truth, we realize the extent of God’s mercy on the lives of all people.  This is why it is of extreme importance to share the kindness of God with others, for as we learned, it is his kindness that leads us to repentance.  As Gentile Christians, we should be the living definition of God’s mercy!  For if God extended to us mercy and compassion, how much more should that mercy and compassion be exhibited in our lives toward others?